1 May

Kit Review: Ennui City Brace II

Since I started derby 18 months ago, I’ve been using 187 pro wrist guards, they were easy to wear and have probably saved me from a broken wrist but I’ve had numerous problems with them. My first pair, I broke the splint and although the convienient slit in the front, theoretically allows the replacement of a broken splint, I found in practice that the slit splits at the sides under much less force than it takes to break the splint and no matter how much I taped it up, the new splint popped out and punched through the tape. I bought a second pair and while my splints are still in tact (despite several heavy falls!) the leather has again split causing the splint to pop out under even minor pressure. In the last few months I’ve suffered several nasty sprains so I’ve been looking for something different.

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I first heard about the City Brace just after they’d taken them off the market for a redesign, so I’ve been waiting months for them and so far, I’m going to say they were worth the wait!

First up – why did I choose the City Brace over the designed for women/derby Elle wrist guards? Two main reasons; firstly and most importantly, they didn’t fit – they only go up to Large, whereas the City Brace goes up to XL. Secondly, the Elle wristguards are currently being redesigned.

I’ve only trained in them for 6 hours so far, so only time will tell how well they will hold up but after several falls, they’re still looking good and my wrists feel great!

The wristguard is made up of 2 parts (stitched together); a stretchy internal glove and the protective outer layer. The internal glove is really comfy and has holes throughout for breathability. The protective layer is very sturdy and feels well constructed, it also has a couple of strips of towelling material on the back for wiping away sweat. The fastening uses a combination of velcro and strong corset lacing. Overall its a very sexy looking piece of kit.

Sizing
The sizing is not generous, my 187s were a Large and fit easily. The size guide from Ennui says to measure around your knuckles and consult their chart, using this method, I was sized as a medium, however after trying them on I found even the large was over an inch from being able to fasten. I highly recommend trying them on in person before buying. When you try them on though, bear in mind that they will soften up a little. When they first come out of the packet, they’re quite stiff and my first attempt to get on the XLs, I was gutted as I couldn’t fasten them and the interior glove was hard to get on. On my second attempt, I managed to get them just closed. I took a gamble and bought them anyway, when I got them home I pulled on the laces as hard as I can and got the wrist strap 50% accross the velcro, after wearing them for 6 hours, I can now get the strap 75% accross – although I have to say, even at 30%, they felt really sturdy and secure.

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Protection
In a word, amazing. The back splint has a curve to keep your wrist at a comfortable, natural angle whilst limiting movement. The front splint has a gentle curve which will make your teammates happy when it comes to pushing! Behind the front splint is an extra square of padding for added protection and comfort. While they are comfortable to wear, they feel incredibly supportive and when falling the really do stop your wrist from bending back. They weren’t 100% – although that could be that I didn’t take enough care when fastening them, on my already sprained wrist there was a slight twinge one of the times that I fell but no damage that laster longer than a few minutes. With my 187s, every subsequent fall on to my sprained wrist was a set back to my recovery. I’m a very heavy skater >300lbs so when I land on my hand, generally, it really hurts, there’s usual some bad language involved too but with these it really was the slightest of twinges and that’s on a wrist that was already damaged, on my good wrist there was nothing at all.

Cons

  • Bruising – while the splints feel about the same size as the 187s, the bruises from falling or trying to bend back your wrist are much larger. Its a small price to pay for the protection you get though
  • Not newbie friendly – if your still use your hands to get up or lean on your hand when watching a demonstraton, these are not for you – unless you want to be quickly cured of those bad habits! When I first started derby I wouldn’t always land as close to my water bottle or bag as I’d like but too close to really get up and walk/skate so I would crawl a little. If you’re still at that stage, I’d give these a miss, unless you want very bruised arms.
  • Laddering – this isn’t unique to the City Brace, other brands also use the perforated glove which is comfortable a more breathable than a solid glove but obviously those hole affect the structural integrity of the glove so be careful not to pull too much on them when you put them on else the holes with split and ladder.
  • Length – at 5’8″ I find the length of the XL a tad longer than would be ideal. Again, I really recommend trying them on before buying  If you find them too long, consider holding out for the Elle redesign.

Overall

I’d say these are an excellent wrist guard, especially if you tend to break your falls with your hands (sensei would be so disappointed!) There’s room for improvement, but they look great, they’re super supportive and very comfortable.

You can get yourself a pair of the Ennui City Brace Wrist Guards from Nottingham Hellfire Harlots sponsor, Derby Store UK

Written by Steph Metal